Research project

Citizen trust in autonomous vehicles: the interactive role of regulatory focus on alleviating scepticism

Project overview

WSI Pilot ProjectWhile the number of semi and fully Autonomous Vehicles (AV) increasing on the road, like any new technology, citizens scepticism remains (Zhang, Shu & Yu, 2021). The scepticism is further compounded by the different levels of autonomy (from partial to full) where there is little common understanding among AV manufacturers, policy makers and citizens at large. To foster AV acceptance and adoption, producers and managers of AV need to lessen consumers’ perceived scepticism and increase trust (Loh, Brito, Bose, Xu, & Tenekedjiev, 2020; Shukla, 2014). As trust plays a key role in citizens’ adoption and acceptance of novel technologies such as AV, understanding how to alleviate these major concerns through an interdisciplinary lens of psychology, marketing and behavioural economics is the aim of this project. In this regard, our interdisciplinary team shall particularly examine the interactive role of regulatory focus from multiple vantage points including psychology, behavioural economics, law and marketing.

When making decisions, individuals use different self-regulation processes to achieve their goals (Guidice, Mero, Matthews, & Greene, 2016; Som & Lee, 2012). The self-regulation process has two regulatory orientations, promotion focus and prevention focus. People with a promotion focus pursue their goals in an approach strategy and are sensitive to presence or absence of a positive outcome. Promotion-focused people place a greater emphasis on ambitions, advancement, and gains and adopt eagerness-related means in pursuing their goals to achieve a match with a desired end-state. On the other hand, people with a prevention focus follow their goals through an avoidance strategy and are sensitive to absence or presence of a negative outcome. Prevention-focused people place emphasis on duties, commitment and non-losses and adopt a vigilance-related means in pursuing their goals to prevent a mismatch with a desired end-state (Higgins, 1997). Further, evidence from high cost/sacrifice goods setting suggests that promotion focused consumers are more inclined to engage in risky pursuits than prevention focused consumers (Fazeli, Shukla & Perks, 2020).

With trust concerns in using AVs, this project aims to answer following research questions:
1.What impact does increasing automation have on citizen scepticism and trust towards AVs?
2.What role will citizen agency play depending on the level of control relinquished?
3.In regard to AVs, do trust concerns and scepticism vary based on citizens’ regulatory focus?
4.Can inducing a particular regulatory focus help in alleviating trust concerns among citizens?

In answering the above research questions, we will investigate the mechanisms that can address consumers’ trust concerns and increase the overall trustworthiness of AVs through the use of behavioural experiments.


Lead researcher

Professor Paurav Shukla

Professor of Marketing

Research interests

  • Luxury consumption
  • Brand management 
  • Consumer behaviour and self-identity 
Connect with Paurav
Other researchers

Professor Uta Kohl

Professor of Commercial Law

Research interests

  • Platform economy
  • Jurisdiction in public and private international law
  • Freedom of expression
Connect with Uta

Dr Nicholas Kelley

Lecturer (A Prof) in Social Psychology

Research interests

  • Social and Affective Neuroscience
  • The Self
  • Self-Regulation
Connect with Nicholas

Collaborating research institutes, centres and groups

Research outputs